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Chilling tales…

What better way to spend a dark October evening than reading a spine-chilling ghost story? Or even reading one aloud to your family? Many of them are short so you don’t need to scare yourself for days on end. We have selected our favourites and, if you want to freak out your children too, we have some for them as well…

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The Ultimate Travel Reading List

In 2012, London-based writer Ann Morgan set out to read a book from every country in the world in a year. Pretty ambitious when you know there are 196 of them. She asked people to send her recommendations and the list she compiled is an extraordinary overview of literature from around the world.

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What are you reading over Easter?

Books are piling up next to my suitcase as the Easter holiday approaches. My ever ambitious holiday reading plans rarely match reality but, hey, as long as I have space in my suitcase…

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Man Booker International Prize 2017 Long-List

My favourite book award, The Man Booker International Prize, announced their long-list today and it is, as usual, an incredibly diverse list, geographically and thematically. We have books from Iceland to China, Argentina to Albania. I remember loving Albanian Ismail Kadare’s psychological thriller The Successor when it came out 10 years ago, so I’ll start with his new book The Traitor’s Niche. A pretty dark book by the sounds of it telling the story of a courtier in the Ottoman Empire responsible for transporting the severed heads of the Sultan’s enemies. Nice to see Roy Jacobsen, one of Norway’s most revered authors, on the list, although The Unseen is not considered to be his best, that accolade goes to Child Wonder. I was disappointed that The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis didn’t make it.  Wonder why… In any case, there’s plenty to choose from here. Which one would you like to read?

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‘A book is a gift you can open again and again…’ – Bookstoker’s Christmas present ideas

As much as I love Christmas, I’m not so sure about the shopping part of it. My heart sinks when I look at the number of Christmas presents I need to buy over the next few weeks. I do enjoy buying books for people though, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as finding the perfect book for someone you love. We’ve been trawling the bookshops and the newspapers to find the most interesting or beautiful (or both) books out there, and hopefully help you find the perfect book for someone.  Here’s what we found.

Merry Christmas!

Michele, Meg, Jane and Julie

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Costa Book Awards 2016 – Short-list

Twenty books to choose from, four in each of the five categories: Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Books – there’s is definitely something for everybody on the Costa Book Awards short-list. And it’s a great place to start you Christmas shopping.

In the Novel category we have Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End, Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place, Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, which we loved, and Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata which we weren’t so keen on (full reviews are in the links).

There are also some interesting debut novels to look out for: Susan Beale’s The Good Guy, Kit de Waal’s My Name is Leon, Guinevere Glasfurd’s The Words in My Hand and Francis Suppford’s Golden Hill. 

Winners in each category will be announced 3 January and the overall winner of Costa Book of the Year on the 31 January.

Costa Book Awards 2016 – Short-list

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In praise of the loo book

World Toilet Day 2016

The parlor may have its charms, but the Japanese toilet truly is a place of spiritual repose.

In the Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki

It seems every country has a sort of skewed and hallowed reverence for the quietest room in the house. I’ve recently discovered, however, that the ‘library in the loo’ is primarily an English occupation (sorry I can’t speak for the rest of Britain), but my Scandinavian and European friends looked at me in puzzled amusement when I recommended a book for the loo.

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